The Haines Borough Assembly considered an appeal from a resident to reimburse them for the cost of providing adequate water pressure to their future home and held several public hearings on ordinances that would decrease the mayor’s annual salary and change the funding source for service areas.

John Winge, Carol Tuynman and Cindy Jones, spoke out against decreasing the mayor’s salary, a change set to take effect in October.

Tuynman said since the borough no longer has a state lobbyist the mayor’s work load will increase.

“I think the Mayor needs to have time to work on these issues and I hope you will reconsider this ordinance,” Tuynman said.

Jones said reducing the annual salary isn’t a good way to save a small amount of money and Winge said the reduction seemed “punitive to the sitting Mayor and anybody who wants to run.”

The ordinance would decrease the mayor’s salary from $15,000 to $6,000 to be more in line with similar communities with a manager form of government.

In communities with a manager form of government like Haines the borough manager, rather than the Mayor, is the chief administrator who hires and fires employees, supervises enforcement of municipal law, prepares budgets and other performs other duties described in Alaska statues.

Assembly member Ron Jackson proposed the salary cut in May, citing Alaska Municipal League data showing Petersburg’s mayor receives $5,400 a year, and Sitka and Kodiak mayors get $6,000. Skagway’s mayor receives $12,000 and Wrangell’s mayor is unpaid.

The assembly unanimously introduced the ordinance earlier this month and will consider it for final approval at its Sept. 12 meeting.

Assembly member Sean Maidy said he might change his vote after hearing from residents who were unhappy with the salary reduction.

The assembly also postponed voting on an ordinance that would allow the borough to fund service areas with sources other than property tax.

The ordinance was created as borough staff worked to fund a new proposed police service area with revenues other than property tax.

The expanded police proposal is now being discussed at a committee level but the funding ordinance moved forward.

Assembly member Tom Morphet said he was uncomfortable using money generated outside a service area to fund a service meant to be provided to a geographical region.

“I think we’re tampering with a law to try and expedite a political solution,” Morphet said. “I think it’s better to contour our political solution to the law.”

Assembly member Heather Lende said funding service areas with property taxes makes sense and approving the ordinance would constitute a big change.

“It’s kind of big government by creep that we’re shifting taxes and revenues to an area where the government might want the services but the residents don’t necessarily want it and don’t want to pay for it with property taxes so we come up with another way,” Lende said.

The Haines Borough currently funds the police department within the townsite with property tax, sales tax and a state grant.

Haines Borough Manager Debra Schnabel said if the assembly and voters choose to create a new police service area, they should be given the same opportunity to come up with multiple funding sources.

“If we retain that mix, that formula for funding within the townsite and created another service area, larger or in a different place, I would recommend we allow that service area to share in the same opportunity to generate funds through a variety of sources,” Schnabel said.

The current borough-wide police proposal would create a new service area to encompass all borough land north of Sullivan Island. Voters must approve the measure.

The current police proposal would include a vote by all Haines Borough voters to expand police protection to areas where many residents have said they don’t want active patrols or regular police presence.

Jackson said the issue should be postponed because a lot of unanswered questions remain. The assembly voted to hold another public hearing at its Sept. 12 regular assembly meeting.

Kyle Fossman also requested reimbursement from the borough for costs related to building a small pump house which he needed to provide adequate water pressure to his home that is currently under construction. His property is located on the top of Piedad Road.

He said borough staff told him the water hookup for the water would create no problems. In April, however, water pressure measured between 5 to 10 pounds per square inch.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation sets a 20 psi minimum standard.

“This pressure was so low that it would not even reach the building pad,” Fossman said. “In order to provide adequate pressure we have to put in a “pump house” in at the bottom of the lot.”Fossman estimated the total cost to be around $10,000 for the pump, lumber, excacation and other building materials.

The assembly will likely make a decision at its Sept. 12 meeting.